Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cute always gets me in trouble

One of my local quilt stores has had a little table runner on display for probably the past year. They keep it out because they know about my battle with cute. They are mean that way. Every time I am there I have to drool over it, pet it, and admire its cute little log cabin blocks. And while log cabin blocks are generally not associated with cute, if you make them teeny tiny, they have the same effect as fuzzy kittens or squishy babies: I just can't resist.

Well, cute finally won. The little pattern and little fabric bundle recently came home with me. About a week ago I dove in, thinking this would be a quick little project. I don't know why my mind equates small with quick, but it never seems to work out that way. These little log cabin blocks finish at two inches square. YIKES! That means quarter-inch logs. YIKES, again! I paper pieced these little guys. I timed it. It took me approximately one minute to pick fabric, sew each log, trim, and press. Not bad. Until you consider there are 15 logs per little block and 48 little blocks. You do the math. That's right, that equals FOREVER!

But I was determined to not let cute take me down. I kept at it, and now I have all 48 of these little guys done. Now I only have four applique blocks to go. Hopefully they will not be as cute, and can get them done a little quicker.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank you

Today, we pause for a moment to remember those men and women who have fought and sacrificed so that each of us can enjoy the freedoms we have. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do and for all you give. You are our true American heroes

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fun-filled week at MQS

Last week was one big quilty blur--so much going on. MQS (Machine Quilters Showcase) was held in Kansas City this past week, and I was lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time there. It was exhausting, but oh so much fun. I took some fun classes on digitizing quilt patterns which I hope to put to work very soon. I also was able to volunteer behind the scenes at the show. One of the highlights was working as a scribe on the judging floor (filling out the judges score cards.) It was really interesting to listen to the judges comment on each quilt and see what they liked (and didn't). They were very picky about not seeing starts and stops, backtracking, finished edges, and consistent quilting density throughout the quilt. I gained a great deal of insight from this experience. And the quilts were spectacular. It was really fun to know once the ribbons were awarded, why one quilt was chosen over another.

I also spent several days on the vendor floor where I got to test drive longarm machines. I made the rounds several times and spent time on all the machines. I had really been looking forward to this. It was great to finally get some hands-on experience with each of them, which helped me narrow down my choices. I can now make a more informed decision when the time comes.

And then the actual quilts... WOW! They were really amazing. I took pictures, but they didn't do justice to most of these quilts or quilters. Sorry I didn't get the quilters' names.

The quilters from Texas were also in town to take in the show. When they weren't at MQS, they had a full-blown quilt retreat set up in my dining room. They hit as many quilt stores as they could find and diligently worked on the pile of projects brought by each of them. We had a great time and are already looking forward to next time!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My graduate

This week my baby graduated from Kindergarten. *snif, snif* I don't know where the last 6 years have gone. I guess he is going to grow up whether I'm ready or not! I better get going on that graduation quilt. Only 12 more years to go.

Congratulations Nicholas. I am so very proud of you. I love you to the moon and back, times infinity!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I just wanted to take a minute to celebrate all the moms and grandmas out there. Thank you for all you did for us and taught us along the way!

I thank God every day that He allowed me to be the mom of two amazing little boys. What a blessing they have been in my life. They are going to take me out for brunch later. They told me where was going to be a surprise. But then they needed me to call and make the reservation. I guess that's what moms are for!

Enjoy your day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Meet Dear Jane

About three years ago I saw a Dear Jane quilt displayed in a quilt store. I didn't know what a Dear Jane was or anything about its history, but I loved it. So much so that I bought Brenda Papadakis' book and jumped right in. It is a reproduction of a Civil War era quilt by Jane A. Stickle. It is comprised of 169 4 1/2-inch blocks, 52 triangles and 4 kites. There are no repeating fabrics, and the original had 5,602 pieces.

Jane Stickle's original 1863 quilt

I thought that this would be the kind of heirloom quilt that I could pass on to my children... But I have two children. They would fight over who got it. Or at least their future quilt-appreciating wives would. So I would have to make two. Crazy, I know! My plan was to take it at a doable pace and enjoy the journey. Jokingly, I hoped to have them completed by the time the boys married said quilt-appreciating wives. For the record, they were 3 and 7 when I started this little project.

In the first 18 months I finished two each of 13 blocks. Yikes! They might have to put off marriage until their forties. But this kind of quilt making required more attention than my very busy three-year-old would allow. Then a sick relative came to stay with us and Jane didn't come out for a whole year! I went from slow progress to no progress. Since the first of the year, though, Jane has made her return, and I have steadily been working along. I've now completed double sets of 18 additional blocks. My goal is to complete at least one block a week. Life happens, though, and that's all part of the journey. When I complete each block I make notes in my book about what my kids are doing or what is happening in my life. I have already learned so much from this quilt.

my most recent Jane blocks

Dear Jane is the most challenging project I have taken on so far. I think that is why I love it so much. I have also discovered a whole world of Dear Jane lovers. There is a tremendous following and obsession for this quilt. "Janiacs", as they call themselves, can be found all over the world. There are chat groups, websites, blogs, swaps and retreats that thousands of Dear Jane enthusiasts are involved with. I have found the online Jane community to be a great resource. When I can't figure out a block (there are no instructions) I can check how others did theirs or ask for advice. Those that have completed their Dear Janes are always there to encourage us slow pokes. We cheer each other on, celebrate the completions, and offer sympathies when you trim that 4 1/2-inch block to 4 inches by mistake. (Oops!) I wanted to cry when I worked for hours on a block only to find out when you have 32 pieces and your seam allowance if off by only a thread, it makes a big difference in the end. I got tons of emails from others who had done the same thing. And they all pointed out that if you look closely at the original, Jane put little sashings on many of her blocks to make them fit.

Jane will have to wait another week, though. MQS (Machine Quilters Showcase) is next week, and I will be taking classes as well as volunteering at the show. And the crazy quilt ladies from Texas will be here, too. It should be a fun-filled week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pimp my ride, quilt lady style

My next mode of transportation, perhaps? Although I don't think any of the males in my household would ride with me anymore. Anything "quilting" makes them cringe. When my boys are bickering in the back seat, all I have to do is threaten to pull into the next quilt store. They think there is nothing worse than looking a fabric. And secretly, I would much rather look at fabric without boys!

My youngest thinks I should get a monster truck and my oldest is thinking more muscle car. This definitely would not meet the "coolness" requirement for them. I think there is way too much testosterone around here for me to pull this one off.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Saving the planet

My youngest showed up with this little purple "flower" on his walk home from school. He told me he got it for our house so it could make fresh air so we could breathe and not die. 'Cause that's what plants do, right mom? He's environmentally conscious that way. Of course his ever-practical older brother had to add that it was probably covered with pollen, and that makes him not able to breathe. Either way, this little pollen-covered weed has taken its place of honor in its own little vase on the kitchen island. And I love it!

Monday, May 7, 2012

My smallest quilt to date

I just whipped this little baby out. Isn't it cute? Three inches tall by seven inches wide.  And why, you ask? It is going to be the backdrop for an ad I am running. Ohhh, and maybe some business cards in the future. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not one to just draw a black line around some text and call it an ad! And I never do things the easy way. Where is the fun in that?

Friday, May 4, 2012

True quilt love or insanity?

Last fall I went into one of my local quilt stores to browse. At least that's what I told my dear husband who chose to wait in the car. After all, I was only going to be a minute. (Surely he knows by now that quilt store time is different than standard time, right?) I was only a few steps in the door when the lights dimmed all around me except for this beam of light that shone down from what must have been the quilting heavens onto a quilt hanging across the room. I was immediately drawn to it. It was a Christmas quilt (my favorite holiday), depicting "The Night Before Christmas" ( a favorite all-time story), made completely out of the most yummy fabric collection (Moda's French General), and in delightful colors. I was in quilt love!

I was now a woman on a mission. I had to make this lovely quilt. I could already envision it hanging on my wall. I looked perfect! I asked the lovely sales lady about it. She said it was a kit done as a block of the month. Could this be any more perfect? But then she added, "...from last year. We don't have it any more. I don't think we even have the fabric."  My heart sank. How dare they leave such wonderfulness hanging on the wall to toy with my quilty emotions? They should have taken that thing down and locked it away so I never would have seen it. Quilt store cruelty, I tell you! Said sales lady should be banished to a dark corner to fold endless fat quarters of really ugly fabric.

But luckily another sales lady (we'll call her my quilt super hero) must have overheard my growl and swooped in to save the day. She quickly fumbled around under the counter and pulled out THE last pattern. I swear I heard angels sing. Then she floated around the room grabbing bolts of fabric, checking the pattern, grabbing more bolts, checking the pattern, grabbing more bolts, and finally lead me to a stack of fabric bolts at least four feet tall. She quickly pointed out that they had all but four of the original fabrics, but she had chosen alternates for each of them. Then she started cutting. And cutting and cutting. An hour later I had three big bags of fabric, a yummy pattern, and quilt love in my heart. True happiness!

Then life happened, (and other projects, of course.) So a few days ago I decided it was time to pull out the Christmas quilt and get this project under way. Then I really looked at the pattern. Applique. Lots and lots of applique. I don't mind applique so much. But for some reason I don't like to do anything the easy way. I'm not a fuse-it-down, machine-stitch-it kind of gal. I like to applique the old-fashioned way, needle-turn by hand. So I started tracing the pieces on freezer paper. I traced for three days. I used at least 9 square feet of freezer paper. Then it took me several more days to cut out all these little pieces.

Here's what I ended up with. There are at least 5 million little pieces. Except for those three big pieces you see in the upper-left corner. Aaahhhhh! What have I gotten myself into? Have I lost my mind? I vow before you now, I will have it done by Christmas (it just may not be of 2012!) You know it has to be true quilt love if I'm willing to take on all those little pieces! Time will tell if it is an everlasting love.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's in a name?

Motherbuzzard may seem like a strange name to some. So, how did such a thing come about? Here's the short and sweet version: Once upon a time I met a wonderful guy. We fell in love and got married. Then my last name was Bussard... but it was pronounced Buzzard. BUZZARD? What? Are you sure? Perhaps your family has been mispronouncing it. No? So what is a girl to do? Just go with it. Embrace it. Have fun with it. Then I became a mom to two wonderful little boys, and my flock of Bussards was formed. The end.

I used to refer to my mother-in-law as Mother Buzzard. Congers up the image of someone mean and nasty and dark, huh? But in reality, you couldn't have met a sweeter lady. Now I proudly take it on. So don't think of me as mean and nasty and dark. I'm quite the opposite. I believe when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade (which is also a good start for margaritas!) Make the most of what you have and enjoy every minute of it!

Or you can just call me Tina. That's what my mom calls me.

This is my little flock of Bussards. I told them to scoot closer together and pretend they liked each other. This was the best I got!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We're live!

Welcome to Back Porch Quiltworks! I'm so excited to launch this new blog where I hope to share my passion for quilting and all those other messes projects I seem to get into. I have been a quilt piecer for quite a while, but have recently found myself involved with longarm quilting. Although I don't have a machine yet, I hope to in the future. Yesterday I got to spend a few hours learning on an actual machine. LOVED IT! It was so much fun. It kind of felt like that first day of learning to write cursive. You don't quite know how to hold your pencil or stay exactly between the lines, but you're excited about this new-found means of creative expression. My grandma used to sit and doodle, writing names over and over. And not just boring everyday handwriting, she had swirlies and fancy flourishes. I could hardly wait for third grade to write in cursive (even though Mrs. Saunders didn't quite appreciate all my "added character.") And ever since then, I've been fascinated with flowing lines, patterns and fancy details. I've always doodled on paper (and even in my head), and today I got to put it on fabric. Award winning quilter right out of the shoot, no. But I am hooked and eager for more. Don't be too critical. Remember, I am the equivalent of a third grade quilter.